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A favorite talking point of the “universal coverage” crowd is the claim that 18,000 Americans die annually because they have no health coverage. Greg Scandlen does a good job of debunking this canard:
Like other misleading claims, this one is also based on a report by the Institute of Medicine … The study conducts no original research, but is a “meta-analysis” of existing studies. There is little consistency between these studies in quality or methods, and all are “observational rather than experimental.”
Ironically, considering the amount of play this bogus stat gets in the media, the IOM report only mentions the18,000 number in passing:
The number shows up only once in the entire report, buried way back in Appendix D that explains the tortured methodology used to come up with that number.
And, as Scandlen explains, there are so many flaws in this tortured methodology that the oft-repreated datum simply can’t be taken seriously. The bottom line is as follows:
Of all the things that might be said about the uninsured, the one thing that is almost certainly not true is that 18,000 of them die each year simply because they do not have coverage.
Like most of the claims made about the fabled uninsured, the tragic fate of those 18,000 victims is pure fiction.
+ May 2008
+ May 2007